Svalbard-the Northernmost of Everything!

There is a travel hack I want to share with you; when buying flights with frequent flyer miles the airlines usually base their prices on country zones, not distance. That means the Easter Islands counts as Chile. Galapagos as Equador and.. Svalbard as Norway! That meant that I could book a flight almost to the Northpole- for just the same price as any other domestic flight! So I went there for a long weekend with a couple of colleagues.

When we arrived there at 2am it was still as light as it was mid day. We could cycle around when we wanted, sleep, go partying and time didnt matter!

Prices there were a lot cheaper too. A tent at the camping spot was 100nok, half a litre of craft beer in Barentsburg was 30kr and taxis was at least half price of what it would cost on the main land- a paradise for partying in the summers!

We also got a guided tour at the Worlds Northernmost brewery, went to the northernmost bar, post office etc etc. Everything was the Worlds Northernmost!

We got to do some sightseeing when were there as well. We had booked a full day boat trip to Pyramiden which was an abandoned mining town and to Barentsburg- the second biggest settlement after Longyearbyen where I got to drink Russian beer, eat russian cabbage soup and send a postcard with a Russian stamp. Soviet slogans and a Lenin statue was still there and it visiting it was the second most fun thing I did while up there after going skinny dipping in the ice cold waters and putting my name up on the Artic Challenge list! I didnt see any polar bears though- so Svalbard, Ill be back!

The landscape we passed on the boatride from Longyearbyen to Barentsburg

The Art of Minimalism

Most of you probably know that I have spent the last twenty months sleeping in a tent and living with only what I need: a phone, a pennyboard, clothes and my camping equipment. While I have been selling and giving away all I owned, the only thing I have bought has been the camping gear and I thought I would let know what and why:

1. Sleeping bag in order to make it through the Norwegian winter it has to be a warm one. Mine goes down to as much as -27°C.

2. Sleeping mat for the winter. This mat takes up more space than my tent, but it is invaluable for staying out on frozen ground. lmnts self inflatable mat

3. Inflatable sleeping mat for summer and backpacking: Exped Hyperlite S

4. Hammock tarp that can also be used to protect me from rain when using my bivvy bag: Sea To Summit Hammock Tarp

5. One person tent– It has survived 6 months of camping through Africa, its lightweight and easy to use: Alps Zephyr 1

6.Four to six person lavvu If I want to stay at the same spot for more than a week, eg. when camping in Svalbard : Helsport Varanger 4-6

7. Inflatable pillow: It is as big as an apple when packed and super comfortable!: Sea to Summit Aeros Ultra Light

8. Protection mat for my bivvy and tent- probably the reason why my tent has lasted that long: Alps Zephyr 1 floor saver

9. SWAG/Bivvy bag Super compact and completely waterproof- perfect when backpacking!: OR Helium Bivvy

10. One person hammock: Hand made in Ubud, Bali, paid only 20$!

11. Tree huggers: To leave as little imprint on the nature as possible when stringing my hammock to trees: Ticket to the Moon Tree Huggers

12. Thermal sleeping liner : makes it up to 10°C warmer, just by using this inside the sleeping bag: Sea to Summit Thermolite Extreme

13. Hammock mosquito net Because it is super comfortable to sleep in a hammock, but only when there are no bugs: Sea to Summit Hammock Bug Net

 

Sometimes when there is raining/snowing a lot I pitch my tent under more permanent roofing that I find in the woods

My most loyal tent, its cheap, quick to set up and really durable

My favorite, when I want to stay longer in one place than just a couple of days

The Bivvy will stay completely dry inside and is just to roll out and use

Sleeping outdors can be great when the forecast shows no wind or rain

From Bavaria to Berlin


Crossing into Germany to Switzerland by train, we felt like we had to make a stop at the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. A visit to the fortress has to be booked minimum 48hours in advance so we decided to do the quick, cheap and easy version where we booked a bus ticket from Füssen to the village of Hohenschwangau where we could walk 20minutes up to Marienbrüvke for a perfect view of the castle. The only problem was, just like Venice, the place was packed with Asian tourists- to the degree that you almost constantly walked in a line with the masses. After walking back to the train station in Füssen, which took another half hour, we had just spent one hour and paid only 2,25€ for our visit, unlike people who had spent lots of time and money waiting in a queue for their guided tours of the castle.

The queue for the compulsory photo from Marienbrücke

The evening and night was spent in München at the annual Gay Pride (Christopher Street Day) and Tollwood, free, open air festival before jumping on a train to Berlin early the next morning.

Gay parade on Marienplatz

Berlin was perfect for just spending a few hours before my evening flight. The train station is close to Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Genocide Memorial and the Rechstag Building. Food stands are plentiful and I got to do some gift shopping before flying back home to Trondheim.

Trekking the Swiss Grand Canyon

During the last two weeks we had stayed somewhere new every single night and were happy to finally spend two whole nights in Zürich together with my friend Isabelle, who I first had met in Bali three months ago.

The fortress by the lake in Neuchatel

On our bucket trip bucket list we had hiking in the Swiss alps, and Isi had suggested a trip to Creux du Van, which was exactly the trip we had been looking for. We took the train from Zürich to Neuchatel, stayed there for an hour before going to the village of Noiraigue in the French part of Switzerland where the trek started. After a steep 1,5hr hike we found ourself sitting with our lunchpack, dingeling our feet over a mountainside that had the nickname “the Grand Canyon of Switzerland”. The weather was great and so was the view.

Another thing we had on our travel bucket list was hitchhiking, so we asked a couple of Swiss-Italians if we could get a ride to the nearest town, which happened to be Môtiers – the town where absinth was invented. We quickly ended up at one of the destilleries, where Sara, who’s husbands’s family had been destilling since the year 1797, even through 100 years of abolition. She offered us a glass of each kind and explained the history of the drink and how it was made.

Having a “backpacker shower” on the Limmat River- right in the middle of Zürich city center

Our day trip was more than we could have hoped for and visiting Lake Zürich, the city center and eating home made Swiss food with local beer and wine was a great break from our otherwise quite hectic eurotrip itinerary. On the way to Zürich we also made a quick stop at Chur to try the World’s longest toboggan ride- feel free to check out the video on my instagram profile here.

The Principality (Führstentum) of Liechtenstein

Going from Austria to Switzerland, we were bound to travel through the country of Liechtenstein. Even though the railroad runs by, there is no train stations in the country. That is why we got off the train in the small Swiss city of Chur and jumped on the bus to Vaduz.

The half hour drive there was nice, passing though the small village of Schaan with vineyards an old church, before the bus finally stopped in Vaduz.

I was surprised to see how small the country really was. Geographically it was bigger than the countries of San Marino and the Vatican which we had visited earlier in the week, but in Vaduz there were almost no people. It was like any village would have been in Switzerland, with a church and at a castle, but nothing more. Taking the bus back to Switzerland, to the city of Sargans, we had crossed the whole country with just over an hour of driving, so for anyone who wants to go there to get some kind of special experience, I just guess there is none. Vineyards and castles is something you have all over the alps. On the vineyard that we did visit there, we looked at the restaurant where the prices for the average appetizer was around 50euroes-way too expensive for our budgets! Looking it up online afterwards I realized that we had been to the Prince’s own vineyard and that this was the country’s most exclusive place to dine.

There is also a trek in Liechtenstein called “the Three Sisters” (die Drei Schwestern”) that one can do, but since I guess that would not have been any different to hiking elsewhere in the Alps we felt like it was enough to spend just one day in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

The view from the Prince’s winery